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A tiger

21 Jun 2009 5:58AM
when i was at the Garumara national park, i saw a tiger crossing the road about 40 to 50 ft away, the light was not so good, i was in a running car.the incident took place so quickly that i was to late to set the right composition and could not take the photo of this rare event. But i want to learn from the mistake. can anybody tell me the right composition of this shot if i want to take a clear picture of such event in a very bad lighting condition. what camera will be best fit in such a situation. what precautions i should take to capture the moment as it is very quick and many time it is not possible to set a cameras settings so quickly. plz give me the idea.

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Overread 9 4.1k 19 England
21 Jun 2009 8:38AM
The rule of animal photos "Eyes in focus"
Even if you have to use your widest aperture so get a good shutter speed in poorer lighting, so long as the eyes are in focus and you have not badly cut bits off the cat in the frame the shot should mostly work. Its the best move when in a limited amount of time with little ot no time to think about composing the shot and such.

Also practice practice practice - the more you use your tools the more you will improve and speed up your use. Then when the time comes for those once in a lifetime shots you are ready for them (at least mostly Wink)
csurry 16 9.2k 92
21 Jun 2009 8:54AM
Familiarisation with your camera.
Know where the settings are and be able to adjust them on auto-pilot.
This goes for hide work too where it is often too dark to see everything
This includes being able to change lenses quickly
Learn the limitations of your equipment and learn to work within them

Familiarisation with technique
Practice, practice, practice as Alex said. A lot of people used to complain that most of my images came from bird of prey centres. These are great places to practice composition, to get to know a species and to practice flight/action shots.

Get to know species. Not so easy if this is a one-off trip, but knowing more about behaviour will help you anticipate moments of action. To get my red squirrel shots where the are running up the log required me to be aware that they were approaching the area. This I learnt by observation of the squirrels and also listening for signs, but also I learnt by understanding what noise/movement had caused the pro I was working with to tense up in anticipation.

There are loads of other things, but these are good starting points to think about possible future species and what you can do now to prepare.

Learn to pan with the subject
Graywolf 11 1.0k United Kingdom
21 Jun 2009 9:12AM
I don't have as much experience as most of the people here but you learn by your mistakes. FWIW these are the some of the rules I TRY and live by.

Before you leave the house make sure you have a blank card in the camera, batteries in the camera, spare cards and batteries.

Make sure you have everything you need.

If in doubt take it. If you haven't got it you don't give yourself the option to use it.

Always keep a spare card in the car, just in case.

Have the camera handy i.e in your hand or on your shoulder, on the passenger seat of the car. Have it positioned, especially in the car, so that you can reach it and hold it immediately.

Have the camera switched on.

Have the camera set for the prevailing conditions. If it is a dull dark day, make sure the ISO is set high enough to ensure a high enough shutter speed.

To get those shots you have to be physically and mentally prepared and alert.

And when all that is done you stand/sit for hours, walk or drive for miles and miss the best shot of your life going to post a letter.

As far as composition goes, the situation you are describing gives little time for composition. I would say get the subject dead centre with the centre focus spot on the eyes. If you get a good shot like that you can 'recompose ' it in Photoshop later by judicious cropping. but if it's out of focus you have no shot at all.

Well that's my two pennorth.
Overread 9 4.1k 19 England
21 Jun 2009 10:14AM

If in doubt take it. If you haven't got it you don't give yourself the option to use it.

+1 the number of times I have grabbed the camera and lens to go get a shot only to have to come back to grab something else and then come back again for another thing is too many to count. Do have limits on what you take, but do try to have a much versatility as you can.

Also with camera settings get into the habbit of always turning it off with the same preset settings - so that when you turn it on you know what ISO you have, what focusing mode, etc..... it takes an element of stress out and also means that you know what your going to get
21 Jun 2009 11:05AM
"Eyes in focus"

can u tell me if i always have my eyes in focus or through the veiwfinder then how can i predict the perfect spot as it is not an wideangle lens. It may lead me to such a situation that even i would not be able to see other events which is going around me as my focus is somewhere else. but u all have given me some good ideas.

nobody has given me yet the idea of a perfect camera in such a situation can u give me?
csurry 16 9.2k 92
21 Jun 2009 11:55AM
Grab shots, I worry less about composition and more about successful execution/capture. So by default my camera is set on single point and the central point. That way if I get the shot I have enough data to crop to the "correct" composition as I saw it at the time when I process the picture.

If you worry about composition too much at the time when it is a fleeting moment then you will miss the shot entirely.

So to use the running squirrel shots in my portfolio as an example. The camera after each visit by the squirrel was set on centre point. By listening and observing the approach of the squirrel I knew whether it was coming from the left - which meant a ground approach or right which meant a leap from the tree.

So if approaching from the left I quickly shift the focus point to the rhs of the frame, so that the focus I am trying to obtain is on the head, and more specifically the eye.

If approaching from the right then the focus point is shifted to the left for similar reasons to above, but now the point of action is as the front paws initially touch the log after the squirrel leaps from the tree trunk.

The right camera is likely to be a DSLR, though some of the bridge cameras are very good. The lens needs to be either a fast prime or one of the top of the range fast zooms. For a safari where you don't know where the action might be a zoom will give more flexibilty. A fast lens, say f/2.8 allows more light in and thus negates some of the poor lighting conditions available. So if I personally was going on safari I would probably take two lenses. A 70-200 f/2.8 and then either the 300mm f/2.8 or the 200-400 f/4. For added flexibility but little impact on carrying I would also take the 1.4x and/or 1.7x convertor.

That should maximise my chances of getting good images. However, when you cost that up and add in a good camera body it may not be the answer that you seek.
Graywolf 11 1.0k United Kingdom
21 Jun 2009 1:12PM
I notice the OP is using a point & shoot camera. I have little experience of these gadgets but what little I do have drove me barmy.

It seemed to automatically take the focus point as the are of highest contrast or something. I could never work out how to make it focus on what I wanted it to focus on. This may n=be where his problem lies.
Overread 9 4.1k 19 England
21 Jun 2009 1:18PM
hmmm his other problem is likey that shutter lag (the time from pressing the shutter button to the camera taking a shot) is probably affecting his ability to get sharp shots of moving subjects as the subject moves during the lagtime. This is something DSLRs don't suffer from at all and the higher end bridge cameras have started to get close to near perfect.

Also I would say that whilst a DSLR is the best camera, as Csurry pointed out they are costly investments, if you can only see yourself getting a lower end body and a few cheap zooms like a 70-300mm and not being able or willing to pay for the more costly and better lenses then for something like an interest in wildlife I would be tempted to recomend taking a long look at the bridge camera market. A really top end bridge camera can give some fantastic results and won't cripple your bank
GreyMoonRising 9 1.5k 1
21 Jun 2009 1:20PM
Must have been great to have seen a tiger so close, Don't really see how you can compare taking photographs of tigers and red Squirrels in the same breath.

I never heard of a Red Squirrel eating anyone that gets too close Smile

If Tigers are on the move as it begins to get dark then I would say have your camera set on a very high iso setting such as iso 1600 with your aperture set at F/6 maybe, to allow you to hand-hold.

Don't get out of the car and keep your windows partialy up or fully closed if the animal is heading your way.

Don't forget these are very dangerous predators and will kill and eat you given half the chance.

Do use an SLR (Digital's best) the model is of no importance, they are all pretty good theses days.

Do use a long lens

Don't forget most of the best photographs and also film video stock of wild tigers are got with the use of expert guides and not some guy wandering about in the bushes alone.
justin c 14 5.0k 36 England
21 Jun 2009 1:40PM

Quote:Don't get out of the car and keep your windows up or fully closed if the animal is heading your way.

Don't forget these are very dangerous predators and will kill and eat you given half the chance.

So do you reckon trying to entice him a little closer with the promise of a stroke and a saucer of milk might not be the way to go?
Overread 9 4.1k 19 England
21 Jun 2009 1:44PM
Well you don't want the saucer of milk - its a right pain trying to compose a wild looking shot with one of those in the scene. Try some roadkill instead - it does not look out of place and will still have its feathers/fur on unlike stuff from the butchers
GreyMoonRising 9 1.5k 1
21 Jun 2009 1:53PM
Again I say, a Digital SLR, Long Lens (the longer the better) high iso settings for shooting in low light conditions, a safe distance.
Manual focusing or you may have problems focusing through the car windows on auto-focus.

Or,you can get out of the safety of your car, you can stand shouting "here kitty, kitty come and let me take your picture as I want you nice and close to ensure your eyes are in focus"

Sounds daft that I have to talk about safety but well...nobody else brought the matter up Smile
GreyMoonRising 9 1.5k 1
21 Jun 2009 2:01PM
Feel free to spot the potential dangers in these two examples:

"Oh good, that lovely little Red Squirrel is only feet away and it's eyes are in perfect, sharp focus"

"Oh good, that lovely big, powerful, flesh-eating, tiger is only feet away and it's eyes are in perfect, sharp focus"

In the words of that great man Homer Simpson "Doh!!!"
csurry 16 9.2k 92
21 Jun 2009 3:50PM
THe example was about understanding animal behaviour and anticipation, but obviously too subtle for some.

I've never been on a safari and have no desire to go on one for various reasons. However, knowledge of the subject and anticipation of events is generally the same no matter what the target species.

Not a lot of point in capturing the moment if the arse of the tiger is sharp but the head is blurred - and a few on here have acheived that sort of effect time and time again.

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